A Youtube video triggered rant

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2 years ago
Topics: History, Deception, Lies, Culture, Lessons, ...

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This is the first part of an email i'm sending to the guy (american) reacting to a video about Amsterdam state of mind. Please keep in mind i've yet to do spellchecking and typo correcting and such!


I was watching your video https://youtu.be/yM21rO5FJcY

"An Amsterdam State of Mind | Live Reaction" and by the thirty second minute into the video i felt i had to set the record straight and let you know how disgustingly twisted the video you're reacting to is, to actually constitute History falsification.

In the video the narrative makes it seem like Amsterdam was the first city of note, the most important city and that most if not all the important events in history were somehow centered around Amsterdam. When he began to narrate the birth of the nation, the Dutch revolt, around events in Amsterdam, and made it sound like Alva (the Spanish dude with the army sent by the King of Spain to punish the protestant riots) was only trying to reach Amsterdam i felt nauseous. Here's why:

If there is a city in the Netherlands that can be regarded as the one that shaped the people central and pivotal in our nation's history then that city would be Breda, and no other. The city officially got awarded city rights by the Lord of Brabant long before the oldest surviving document in which Breda is recognized as a city was sealed and archived in 1242. At that time however the City already had its own city gates and defensive works, it's own Bischop and church bisdom and most importantly its own jurisdiction, which only cities had the right to. In fact the oldest known mention of Breda as a location of a settlement dates back to 879 where there is mention of a trading station where the rivers Mark and the wide Aa came together called Wide Aa, which over time got shortened. In English the city would get the name WidA (Wide Aa). In Dutch it was Breede Aa, Breda. But as the oldest survivind document that officially grants more souvereign rights to the city is from 1242 many mistake it to be the date Breda got city right.

Anyway, the point is that Amsterdam was swamp (at best) for another 200+ years! So speaking of Amsterdam like it was the first noteworthy city is rediculous (Breda is not the oldest city in the Netherlands, that is Geertruidenberg, nowhere near Amsterdam either, dating to 1213)

It is also insinuated that the fight against water began with Amsterdam, which is possibly even more ludicrous. The "Terpen" in Friesland and Groningen (northern provinces) were the first resistance to the rising/flooding waters the Dutch gave. They were artificial hills that were created to keep farms dry, and later to keep vilages dry. The first were built between 500 and 400 BCE!

Dijken (Dykes) were first used in the fight against water around 1000 CE. The first were used to contain river flooding. Only around 1300CE did the first dykes to keep out sea water appear.

So before we come to the building of the windmills there is at least 200 to 300 or more years of relevant history ignored, but even that can be reasoned away as being not relevant to Amsterdam, i guess. But then they ask the question "How did it all start?" and proceed to tell you things that are simply.... let's use the word erroneous, and assume there's no intent to falsify.

Because the windmill was the result of cooperating FARMERS that needed to have their harvested grain made into flour, quickly, before it could go bad, or get infested with any of the harvest ruining things out there at the time. The farmers cooperated with each other to build and operate a large windmill to power two huge circular grinding stones between which the grain was ground into flour on almost industrial scale for all the farmers in the mill's cooperation.

This was early 13th century, and a technology that made its way to the low countries from Perzia where it had its origin somewhere in the 9th century. The first so called poldermolen or wipmolen (polder mill or WipMill) was built in 1407 near Alkmaar (50km north of Amsterdam) which started the pumping dry of marchlands to create polders, in order to gain more FARMLAND, no monistary, munk or even a pastor mentioned ever until decades later.

So to hear him describe how mills dried the land and because then they needed to keep the land dry they came up with dykes is simply not true. But then to have the audacity to say "And when we think about those dykes that takes us really into the concept of Amsterdam:" is incomprehensible. Relating this drying out and then surrounding it with dykes to keep it dry to religious motives, independence and tolerance is at best a mistake, i won't tell you the word i use for it.

Then he is somewhat right that the surrounding areas where the products were grown, made into flour, and other products came together in the middle, where Amsterdam became the marketplace. But by no means by any strech of imagination was it an "Emporium of Europe" at that point. That makes the statement that the Amsterdam residents (doubtful they'd called themselves anything like Amsterdammers) were proclaiming "here we are" let alone regarded themselves "ebay and amazon of the middle ages so sadly wrong its laughable.

He even states "they actually literally said: First city of Holland, celebrated Emporium of all of Europe"

I cincerely doubt born and raised Amsterdammers would not get angry at hearing the history of their city butchered in the way this video guy does. Because the history of Amsterdam goes back way further than the moment he's putting the beginning of Amstedam at (the picture he shows is a city plan drawn by Cornelis Anthoniszoon in 1538). Truth is that the location (he told was marshland and only became dry and habitable after mills had dried the land and dykes were invented to keep the water out) had wooden buildings there, built for non farm related purposes around 1225 and that human habitation of the location is dated back (by archeological artifacts found there) to 4600 years.

The official history of what could be said actually became Amsterdam began around the year 1000CE with a dam the river Amstel. The Aemstelle area then began to be mined little by little. As the peat then, because of the draining of water, began to "slink in" which i guess can best be translated with "began to settle in" dykes needed to be built because the land from which the peat had been mined was lying lower than the surrounding land and groundwater. This is where those oldest wooden structures i mentioned were built in 1225.

Because of the Dam built in the Amstel river, and the later building of a dam with sluices built from the western bank of the river, the mouth of the river Amstel became the first sea harbor for a small settlement, then still called Aemstelledam. In 1275 the earl of Holland freed the villagers from tol duty, allowing them free travel through the earldom Holland. This was a political move because the settlement, the area around it and the Amstel Land (the land around the river Amstel) was at that time the jurisdiction of the Utrecht Sticht, and governed in its name by the Gentlemen of Amstel. Those Gentlement (or noblemen) threatened to secede from Sticht Utrecht, but were prevented from doing so by Earl Floris of Holland. He wanted to show how important the eardom of Holland was by freeing Aemstellendam from the toll duty giving them an advantage over cities in Holland.

This doubly debunkes the "First city of Holland, celebrated Emporium of all of Europe" statement the video makes.

That the earl was promptly murdered by the Lords or noblemen of Amstel isn't relevant but nevertheless an interesting factoid.

Aemstellendam became a city called Amsterdam when Bisschop of Utrecht granted the not quite a city but more than a village city rights in 1301 or 1302. Those rights were more a political manauver than it had anything to do with there being an actual city development though. Jan the 2nd became earl of holland and by this and other political strategic moves he wanted to have his lands bordered by a nobleman or earl that he could trust (his brother Gwijde) and as Bisschop Gwijde could gain control over Amstedam by granting it city rights (which gained a place under god and the church, which was ruled by.....the Bisschop. Between 1300 and 1400 the population grew from less than 1000 to over 3000 and it became involved in sieges, loosing its rights as punishment, and regaining its rights after Bisschop Gwijde died in 1317.

Anyway, to go on in detail about Amsterdam's history before 1538, the date at which the video places Amsterdam's beginning, isn't useful anymore having established that 1538, and the quotes the video tells you about can not be taken seriously just as the origin story about monks and independence and all that the video's narrative told you about is not even close to truth.

The zeedijk (seadyke) story pans out, except that it wasn't built to keep the sea out as such. The water of the IJ was the reason for the dyke. But as the IJ was back then connected to the Zuiderzee, which in turn had connection to the north sea, the IJ could technically be named a sea instead of a lake. But that's not that important. The Zeedijk is one of the oldest parts of Amsterdam, this is true.

The connection he then makes however (blatantly disregarding that before he was talking about the begin of Amsterdam while showing a picture of a city plan created in 1538 by placing the building of the church in the 13 or 1400's) between the Scandinavian Church and the internationalist nature of the "City" is again twisting the facts.Truth is that the church had nothing to do with, nor was built by  Scandinavians. The church is the St. Olaf's chapel because St. Olaf was the patreon saint of all seafarers, who also happened to be King of Norway and spread Christianity in that country. But with the main income of the city and the people came from shipping and seafaring a chapel for the seafarers patreon saint St. Olaf is not strange. It had nothing to do with Scandinavia or the saint's dayjob.

Knowing this the statement about being like seattle or san fransisco looking out from the edge connected to the international world again is based on at best misunderstanding but nevertheless baseless.

His description of the funtion of the houses along the canals is somewhat correct. The top floors were warehouses, but they're called "Herenhuizen" for a reason. The elite Sirs and near noble wealthy lived in those houses. Heren is Dutch for Gentlemen. They're Gentlemen Houses.

The Best quality and value goods from the harbor were transported by smaller row boats over the canals to these houses and then stored on the top floor on order from, for and to the benefit of the wealthy elite living there.

Then he goes on to, for some reason, jump back to the 1300's and sais that the map of Europe was a pilgrim map, and that this explains the central church in Amsterdam. This had little to do with pilgrimage. In fact in the 1300's the church began as a wooden chapel and a small cemetery. In 1280 the first pastor got the care for two chapels/churches, and the chapel turned into church but had no Parochial or its own pastor. The church became a parochial in 1334 and got its pastor but it did not begin to look like the structure we see today until the 1400's after the addition of a five sided choir roundwalk, and 2 chapels which made the shape of the church into a cross. This was finished around 1460.

I've done some extra research just to make sure i was accurate but nowhere in the official church history, the city history or the monument care foundation's history is there ANY mention of pilgrimages or pilgrims in relation to this church or any other in Amsterdam before both of the largest and biggest churches were already built and parochial churches, neither did either one of the churches become a pelgrim destination. The little chapel at the house where the host was burnt (or rather didn't burn), the chapel of the holy steed, did become somewhat of a place of pilgrimage, but this was not until around or after 1400. This hardly means that "Amsterdam became a city based around a miracle". The chapel became the chapel based around a miracle, which did draw some pilgrims after some time but that hardly makes Amsterdam based around the prelims. It's true the city had some 20 monasteries, but every parochial back then had monastic activities pop up like mushrooms. This was not because of the pilgrimages, but because there were that many different monastic orders being formed in that time period. You had for example..

Begijnen, begarden, tertiarissen, urbanisten, franciscanessen, franciskaners, kapucijnessen, conventuelen, observanten, coletienen, karmelieten, augustijner heremieten, zakbroeders, cluniacensers and so on and on and on. And all of them had monk, and other titled worshippers that had need for a monistary to live and worship in. Again, nothing like the video sais.

The next discrepancy is one with which he tries to de-emphasize the possible link to the many orders. He states there was a monistary for every 500 citizens in Amsterdam. this is actually more like one monistary per 120 citizens of Amsterdam.

Next he has a little bit of a close up of a city plan created in 1538, to then come to the conclusion that many cities were FOUNDED on monastic ideas. I can not emphasize enough how baseless, unfounded, rediculous and very wrong this statement is.

For one thing, many of the European cities were founded by the Romans. London and Paris being two famous examples (Londinium and Lutetia). But all the way to the river Rhine (we call it the Rijn), where the Roman empire's expantion was halted, many if not most of the cities were founded by the Roman Empire.

Other cities, including the majority of the Dutch cities were founded at strategical locations for trade, like where rivers joined (Breda, the city that DID shape the Nation and did play a key role in Dutch history was formed at the joining point of the Rivers Mark and Aa) or where travel routes met, also offering the best opertunities for trade. Other cities sprang from farming communities that consolidated or attracted traders buying or selling farm produce, like grain, flower or (like in Holland gradually forced to switch to cattle farming) meat and dairy. In southern parts of the Netherlands defensive structures and fortifications, often deliniating borders, became settlements and eventually cities. In fact most of the pelgim routes throughout Europe tended to end or begin in Maastricht or Aachen. Maastricht being the only Duch pelgrim city (founded based on pelgrimage) i am aware of.

The quote from Erasmus comes from a passage in one of his letters he wrote in 1518. It ends the passage in which Erasmus poses that life within monestaries doesn't differ much from that witout. He supposed that maybe the city dwellers did even better than the monks in the monistaries because they had to make time for praying in between their daily work.

This gives a whole different meaning to what Erasmus meant and how the video's interpretation uses the quote.

In pretty much every city, village and concentration of more than two sheds and a house you can find a streetname that is similar to the name of a monastic order, monistary, cathedral or large church. Not kidding. Amsterdam has it's share of streets named for saints. Every saint pretty much had multiple monastic orders named after it in those days.

The prayer without end is an ALLEY between streets. Alleys have weird names in our country. I know personally of DevilsPath, Angel's flight, Escape of faith and the FallenAngelAlley (all translated from their Dutch names: Duivelspad, Engelenvlucht, Ontsnaptgeloof, en the Gevallen Engel Steeg.)

It wasn't monastic clocks that ruled (Most monastic orders and monasteries have the purpose of seperating and shielding the monks from the influence and contact with society outside the walls of the monastery walls) but the clock of trade, commerce, production and daylight in towns and cities, and the clock of nature and night/day on farming communities.

At this point the chat makes more sense than that video guy. Indeed Zwolle is a nice city, not too big, located next to a lake. It's beauty and attraction lies in it's unremarkableness. It also grew at the joining of two rivers, the Vecht and the Aa (yes, you could sail the river from Zwolle to Breda and back). It also got city rights in the 13th century and also has a history of sieges, battles and in the 15th century set itsself apart in the education scene with gymnasiums, and school innovations.

The painting of "De gebroeders de Witt" is interesting but the history, or story of the Brothers De Witt is far far far more interesting and stunning and shocking than the painting can express. Another good chat suggestion.

Anyway this mail has already become much much much longer than i had intended, and i didn't even get to the part that actually offended and angered me as a lover of history in general and of the Dutch Revolt, the Nassau family and Breda in particular. I'll try to quick through my problems with his narrative of the mid to late 16th century though, because i've got to get it off my chest.

(at 24m 28s you say you're learning a lot from this video. THAT is why i'm so emphatically about what that man in the video is telling the viewers. 90% of what i have seen in this video is false, wrong, twisted half truth and deceptive misinformation. And you're learning a lot from that video you claim? OMG, the damage this video has already wrought upon its viewers, how much more will it do in the future?)

Anyway, he's leading up to the reformation via the Anabaptists. He doesn't mention that even for the most reformist minded christians the anabaptysts were strange. their core belief was that only pious christian believers were allowed to be baptized. (rejecting child baptisms)

their naked walk through the streets was to express their honest nakedness in fear of the vengeance of god. (one person in a meeting of the group took off his clothes, burned them yelling "Wooo, the vengeance of God" and ran out into the street, after which the others in the meeting joined.

Not new found freedom in Jezus meaning they shouldn't need to have clothes on.

The rebellion (more of a little attempted uprising) wasn't an armed one. They occupied the cityhall, killing (by beating) the mayor, expecting support from the masses. That didn't materialize because the uprising in Munster which was very brutally and mercilessly put down, as this little demonstration that got our of hand was. Authorities killed 18 Anabantists, 19 civilians and later arrested other supporters who were humiliated, tortured and or executed. Their heads were put on stakes and put infront of the city gates as warning to anyone thinking about disobedience. Nothing was thrown into the river.

The bullshit about gedogen, allowing things that are illegal or not allowed has NOTHING to do with the 16th century in Amsterdam. This was something that was coming into the common consciousness in the southern parts like Brabant, Limburg and Flanders. In Amsterdam the catholic church and its strictly enforced rules and regulations remained as intolerant as they could be until Amsterdam had no choice but to change to Protestantism being one of the last Catholic centres in the newly formed Republic of the Netherlands. This was well into the Dutch revolt and the 80 year war! This guy is setting up history falsification (wasn't that illegal? I'm looking that up later!!).

That's it for part I, the continuation will be in Part II!

In the next part of this article i continue from the video's point at 27m 21s.

Thank you for reading.

Stay safe and stay happy!


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2 years ago
Topics: History, Deception, Lies, Culture, Lessons, ...


I got to admit I have very little knowledge of the Netherlands history. I know some things from the colonial era, but you certainly seem convincing! I started watching the video but then got curious as to what you had to say so came back and read about half, but will certainly try to educate myself more and come back to read the rest. Important to remember history and not distort it, also not allow others to distort it as sometimes this serves certain interests. I would love to read the response from the guy if he bothers to read your essay! It was enlightening though and if he was interested he would have to respond. Not his fault by any means, he looks like a cool guy.

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Yeah, i can say the American reacts guy is a very relaxed, down to earth and seemingly open dude. This video was actually the 5th video I was watching. The first one I watched was so remarkably different from most of the reaction videos today. No over the top expressions of shock or surprise or anything which seems to be the norm today, just a guy honestly watching a video, fascinated and interested, who pauses the video if he's wondering about something or has a remark to make. Also engages in the sense that he asks questions and encourages the answers to be posted in the comments. Also actually reads the comments, I noticed and comes across as eager to learn. When I've finished this reply I'm going to finish the mail I started (we're now coming to the part that actually triggered me, my favorite subject: The Dutch revolt, or 80 years war, or war for independence (yes it seems the struggle that birthed our country is known by many names) and the father of the fatherland Willem van Oranje Nassau. I'm probably so much into that because I live in Breda, where the Nassau family (whom's latest descendant is now our King) first came into The Netherlands and became Dutch in 1404 and where Willem van Oranje lived until he refused to submit to the Spanish oppression and religious intolerant violence. This city is truly the place from which, to which, and because of which the most pivotal events, people, and history-making in our country were centered around. Just something like realizing that for a long time In the 80 years war, our country was also in its golden age, practically ruling the world's oceans and maybe even just ruling period. (the 17th century is our golden age, in large part because of the VOC the united EastIndian Company (which is the first-ever publicly owned company that sold stocks, or shares, and paid dividends to shareholders.) is mind-blowingly fascinating to me. Even our country today, when you think about it, achieves impossible things. There's hardly any global top 10 in which there is no Dutch has a spot. We're founding members of the EU, NATO, and the UN, we're the largest agricultural exporter on the planet (or third in some publications) are the 13th wealthiest nation on the planet but all of this we manage to do with a population of not even 17 Million. That is less than some cities let alone countries. Anyway, i am rambling again, I blame Saturday for that. Have a good weekend and thanks!

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